Oesophageal Patients Association

Long term eating plan for people after surgery? Any resource available?

Given we have fairly unusual problems after surgery such as insufficient vitamins, high protein requirement, lactose problems, "dumping" etc and much of the day seems to be spent trying to fit in enough of the right calories and proteins is there any resource that could do an itemised and detailed eating plan to follow? It would need to to allow for 6-8 small meals a day. be low GI, high protein and in small enough portions and possibly a vegetarian option too? Is there a dietician with a computer programme out there who could help I wonder? I get so fed up with thinking what to eat and still cannot gain weight after 18 months!


7 Replies

Dear Charlie

There are a couple of links below that might well be helpful as a bit of a start. Also telephone 0121 704 9860 and ask them to send you a copy of the OPA Recipe book (with ideas like Eggs Benedict etc).



Low GI index foods:

Oats, All Bran™, Special K, Sultana Bran ™, muesli, Fruit & fibre types

Granary, multigrain, pitta & rye bread, chapattis. Fruit loaf.

Basmati rice, pasta but not macaroni, sweet potato, noodles, yam


Popcorn, crisps, most chocolate, oat cakes, nuts, yoghurt, milk

(taken from a talk from a specialist dietician)

The recipe book arose from ideas that came from patinets themselves, so please add your own suggestions to this thread and we can add more suggestions to the book.

We are particularly keen to add recipes for those with diabetes, and for those whose backgrounds may not be catered for eg curries etc. We have to be aware of iron, vitamin B12 and some who have dairy intolerance. So the short answer to your question is that there is not much available, but we can work on it and improve things if we have enough suggestions coming in!

Now, about weight! If you feel OK it might be a wardrobe problems rather than a health issue. People do find that they settle down to a new lighter weight, and if your digestive system is reasonably stable, you may find you are better off not trying to eat to achieve a fantasy weight target that your system will never be able to achieve. If you are taking in enough nutrition and you feel OK do not worry! (Some people have lost 6 stones in this experience and still get along all right - but they did need new clothes!)

Let's see what happens with this thread!



I don't want to sound blasé but my surgeon had me eating fish, lentils etc on day 9 after my total gastrectomy . He said just experiment and eat smaller mels more often. Now about 13 weeks on I can eat quite normally just smaller portions more often andsay if I must eat out I will have a small breakfast and then eat a moderate 2 course meal but this can inlude steak or whatever . If I overeat or say et a lot of chocolate or fruit I might get indigestion and I will take 2-3 Rennies and that will usually work.

I rarely get diarrhoea but if I do it's usually as I have eaten too many sugary things or fruit. I will take an Imodium And that will normally sort things out right away.

Kind regards



Hi Charlie,

Have you access to a dietician at the hospital? if not, ask for one.

I'm now 5 years out and now having to watch what I eat as starting to put on weight very quickly.

My specialist dietician has always stressed that if you have a balanced diet consisting of all the previously wrong / unheathly things mixed in with the 5 a day veg / fruit, I would not need any supplements at any stage.

Small meals and often was the key for me, refined sugar is still a problem sometimes but using un-refined for cooking and drinks does help.

Mash potato with extra butter, double cream and cheese added, is a favourite for a week day meal with fish, chicken or made as shepherd's pie.

Cheese and cream added to scrambled eggs on toast is a good simple snack.

There is a good booklet available from OPA as Alan has previously mentioned.

I find Gaviston Double action tablets work better than Rennies if needed but try sipping cooled boiled water, this may be an old wives tale but works for me at night.

The thing is not to worry, it took nealy 4 years before I started gaining weight, at 18 months out my weight was just about getting stable.

Just enjoy eating what you want and try different things to see what does or does not suit you.

Hope this helps.

Best regards,

Dave C


I found ginger tea very good if I was feeling sick..which sometimes happens now. I know this is not an answer to the question but Dave brought up boiled water. I think this is an excellent question as I seemed to live on beetroot, mashed potato and cheese on crackers for a long time after surgery, it took me a year and half before putting on weight.


Thank you all for your replies, just goes to show how different we all are which is precisely why I personally would love a computerised and individual eating plan tailored to ones needs. I have no appetite at all. I also live alone. Neither of these inspire me to want to cook sadly! My time is precious and I would much prefer to be anywhere but in a kitchen! I have quite a good knowledge of nutrition, have the OPA books, but given various other problems I would be happy to follow a plan but do not have the skills, time or energy to devise one of my own. I asked the question I guess because I am fed up thinking about food! It is a necessity to me and no longer a pleasure and I would happily take a pill if one was available!

Regarding weight, I personally am underweight with a bmi of 17.5. This means I am at greater risk of bone problems and infections. I am also under treatment which involves a chemo drug (as are others on the site). These all wipe out the immune system so we are more vulnerable to infections. Long term vitamin and mineral deficiency will also affect hair, teeth, skin etc. etc. Hence this is not just a "cosmetic" problem but an important one. The dumping issue is also a difficult one in devising an eating plan, some people seem to be vulnerable to high sugar and others high fat (which negates using extra cream, butter etc.) And if one is a veggie (as well as other issues) then devising any plan with pen and paper would be very difficult to do I would imagine. I am lucky in that I rarely experience problems with indigestion and never have. I have just done a first time shopping trip to Waitrose in Norwich as a change from M and S which is the nearest I can get to relatively decent ready meals.

I think all the suggestions from others will be really usefull though especially to "new" members, I have posted some "tips" in the past too. The OPA books were most informative and well worth sending for and adding to their recipies will I'm sure be a positive move. Now, if I had a chef in the kitchen................:) Well that would be a different matter:) Volunteers welcome:)



Hi Charlie

I have found it very difficult to work out what works and what doesn't after 14 months since my oesophagectomy. I have tried 'little and often' and found that I still get pain anyway so I've reverted to meals at the usual times but obviously not 'normal' size portions. I've experienced periods of 'dumping' symptoms (pain, sweats, shortness of breath), particularly in the first year. At other times I've felt bloated with indigestion, constipation, diarrhoea, etc. etc. and had the occasional surprise like a Vindaloo having no adverse effect whatever!

In terms of heat and serve meals, ready made sandwiches and the like, I tend to look for low sugar on the box/packet and that does seem to help. However, once in a while I'll become too confident and something will deliver a really nasty reaction (I had some ribs out recently and it was horrendous!). Also, I continue to drink beer and wine and that seems ok but hot drinks with food are a no-no.

I have attempted calorie counting/recording, diet sheets, vitamins et al and for me, the only way is to try to eat as normally as possible, put up with the pain in my stomach, which is pretty much constant, and wait for things to improve. I think as long as one is eating, that's the main thing (echoed by my surgeon).

My weight is gradually increasing (very slowly) and like most people on here I would imagine, I do try to pile on the calorific stuff. For example, I get through a large packet of crisps every evening.

The other thing that I struggle with a bit is that I find it hard to tell what pain and discomfort is due to the operation and what is due to eating and food types. Generally though, I find tiredness and stress to be the main culprits for most of my issues now.

Sorry if this is a bit rambling in nature but I hope it helps.



Couldn't this be a brilliant project for a dietician and the Apple people! There seems to be an app out there for just about anything so why not for us!!

I found the OPA book helpful but the blog even more so. Until the blog I dont think I had a real sense of how common eating problems are but also how individualised new eating habits have to be. It just helped me to come to terms with it all a bit more.

I agree good ready meals are a boon if you are on your own. You dont have to spend ages in the kitchen and buying small but top end ones make me feel Im treating myself.

Good luck Charlie.


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